The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
The TOUR heads to La Jolla, California this week as the Torrey Pines Golf Course hosts the Farmers Insurance Open. After last week’s gimmicky pro-am, we are back to a full 156-man field, standard cut event.
Torrey features two courses, the North and South, with the latter being played on three of the four rounds. The North Course is substantially easier, measuring 500 yards shorter than the South, which comes in at a whopping 7,765 yards. Both courses are par 72s
I’ll be highlighting the best cash game/single-entry plays on the DraftKings main slate, but these players are often great options in any contest.
My analysis will frequently reference Strokes Gained, a set of proprietary metrics generated by the PGA TOUR using millions of data points to calculate how many shots on average it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation. Strokes Gained is now available in the FantasyLabs PGA Models.
There are a variety of Strokes Gained-related metrics, but the six main categories you need to know include:
- Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee (SG: Off-the-Tee)
- Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: Approach)
- Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green (SG: Around-the-Green)
- Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: Putting)
- Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking (SG: Ball-Striking), which is SG: Off-the-Tee + SG: Approach
- Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (SG: Tee-to-Green), which is SG: Ball-Striking + SG: Around-the-Green
For more information on Strokes Gained data and how to use it, check out this article from Bryan Mears on The Action Network, which unpacks each of the above metrics in detail. I also recommend Chris Murphy’s Strokes Gained column after each round of that week’s PGA TOUR event, which highlights golfers to buy and fade, along with Matthew Vincenzi’s weekly “Stats That Matter” column that highlights which Strokes Gained sub-metrics matter the most for a given course.
And don’t forget to utilize our various PGA DFS tools like our Lineup Builder, PGA Correlation Dashboard, and our Trends tool.
The following players listed are based on DraftKings scoring and pricing.
Tony Finau ($9,100 DraftKings)
You cannot call yourself a serious PGA DFS cash game player and not start your lineups with Tony Finau this week. He’s played the Farmers seven times in his PGA TOUR career and has never finished worse than 24th. He’s also finished inside the top six in four of his past five starts at Torrey, including a runner-up last season. Finau finally got the monkey off his back this past summer at the Northern Trust, capturing that elusive first “real” victory that he’s been longing for.
He hit a bit of a wall during the Fall Swing but finished seventh at the Hero and then struck it really well last week at the Stadium Course. We know by now to target Finau at only the toughest of tracks on the PGA TOUR circuit, as he seems to bring his best stuff in the biggest events. This week should be no different, and DraftKings did us a favor by making him only $9,100 this week. He is one of the strongest cash plays on the board.
Marc Leishman ($9,000 DraftKings)
It’s weird seeing Leishman priced above $9,000 after the season he had last year, but he’s been too good in 2022 thus far that it’s impossible to ignore. The big Aussie had quite the Fall Swing, finishing third and fourth respectively at the Shriners and the Fortinet. He then started the new year with a T-10 at the Sentry. It appears he’s back to his old self. This is great news because, much like Finau, he absolutely loves Torrey Pines as well.
Leishman has five top 20s in his past eight starts at the Farmers, including his win here back in 2020. Even last year, in his incredibly down season, he finished T-18 at this event. Across his past 24 rounds in this field, Leishman ranks 19th on approach, fourth in SG: Putting, and fourth in Total Strokes Gained. His course history, recent form, and price all look pretty strong this week, putting him 100% in cash game consideration.
Patrick Reed ($8,700 DraftKings)
The defending Farmers champ is another one coming off a poor 2021 season. However, we know never to look at statistics when deciding whether or not to roster Captain America. There is something about big-time events that seems to tickle Reeds’ fancy, as he seems to always get up when all of golf’s heavy hitters congregate.
Before his win last year, Reed finished T-6, T-13, T-23 his previous three trips to La Jolla. His ball-striking has been abysmal of late, but his short game has remained intact. He actually showed some signs of life over the last couple of months, finishing T-3 at the Hero and T-2 in Bermuda. Despite his recent poor play, Reed has still been making cuts, and his $8,700 price tag on DraftKing’s is a pretty nice bargain for someone with his win equity.
Max Homa ($8,400 DraftKings)
There should be a flow chart when deciding whether or not to play Homa. Is the PGA TOUR in California for the week? If so, then the answer is a resounding yes. The man absolutely loves playing in his home state. His maiden victory came at Riviera, which we will see in a couple of weeks. In addition, he’s played extremely well over the years at Pebble Beach and here at Torrey Pines.
Homa’s last two years at the Farmers, he’s finished T-18 and T-9. If he did that this week we would be elated with his price being just $8,400 on DraftKings. This is more of an art than a science as the recent data is not great on Homa, but he seems to play well at tough tracks in big boy fields. I expect him to go well again this week.
Ryan Palmer ($8,100 DraftKings)
In case you didn’t know, Ryan Palmer loves Torrey Pines. He’s played the Farmers each of the past four years, and his results read T-2, T-21, T-13, T-2. The last time we saw him was at the Sony, where he finished T-12 and struck the ball incredibly well, gaining at least 1.3 strokes off-the-tee in three of his four rounds.
The 45-year-old can still bomb it, as he ranked 38th on the PGA TOUR last season in driving distance. That will come in handy at Torrey, as it’s one of the longest courses on the circuit. I like the way Palmer has been playing of late, and he seems like a screaming value at just $8,100.
Justin Rose ($7,900 DraftKings)
Rose seems to be getting back to his former self, as he’s been making cuts and posting some high finishes. He placed ninth at the Hero and 12th at the RSM. His history here at Torrey is also strong, as he has three top 10s across his past four starts, including his win back in 2019.
Obviously, all of that came when he was one of the five best players in the world; however, he’s seemed to have figured some things out, and I fully expect a made cut this week. At just $7,900, that’s more than enough to warrant cash game consideration in this field.
Luke List ($7,600 DraftKings)
List has been on a really nice run of late, posting three top 10s over his past five starts. Across his past 24 rounds in this field, List ranks third in SG: Tee-to-Green, seventh in SG: Ball-Striking, and sixth in SG: Around-the-Green. This is a really strong field we have this week, making those numbers that much more impressive.
In addition, List also boasts pretty strong history at Torrey, making each of his past four cuts at this event with two top 12s in that stretch. You could make the argument that he should be priced in the mid-$8,000 range this week, so at just $7,600, we need to take the value and run this week. His ball-striking is locked in right now, so if he does anything with the flat stick, we could be looking at another top-10 in this spot.
Aaron Wise ($7,500 DraftKings)
Wise has been incredible, dating all the way back to the Fed-Ex Cup playoffs, finishing inside the top 26 in each of his past seven starts, including a T-8 and T-5 at the Shriners and CJ Cup. Across his past 24 rounds in this field, he ranks sixth in SG: Tee-to-Green and seventh in Total Strokes Gained.
He is one of the few players in this article who has poor course history at Torrey, as in three starts, he has a pair of missed cuts with a T-71. However, he seems to be a much more refined player now and is on too much of a heater to be ignored at this ridiculous $7,500 DraftKing’s salary. He should absolutely be in the mix this week.